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Renovated townhouse ideal for raising a young family



A COUPLE who have completed a total renovation of an 18th century property in Watlington are now looking to downsize.

Carolyn and Neil Boddington moved to Westfield House in 1996 because they wanted more space for their family to grow.

Now that their sons, Dan and Kieran, have flown the nest, they’ve launched the Georgian four-bedroom house on Shirburn Street.

Ms Boddington said structurally and footprint it is exactly the same as the day we bought it, but we have updated it completely.

When we moved in, we had a young family, a four-year-old and an 18-month-old, and my husband had just started his own business.

We previously lived in a two bedroom house in Watlington and when this hit the market we thought it was perfect for our family to grow up in.

When the Boddingtons bought the property, they knew it would take a lot of work, but they made sure to take the time.

It was really dated, Mrs. Boddington recalled. The large bathroom was avocado green and the shower was leaking while the carpet and wallpaper had an old-fashioned swirly pattern.

We had bought it from a young lady who bought it as a renovation project, but her circumstances changed so she hadn’t gotten very far by the time we took it on.

The house was in desperate need of love.

The couple began to make their own mark on their home in 2000 when they remodeled and refurbished the bathrooms.

A few years later they made the biggest change, smashing through a few walls to convert three small rooms into one playroom. It has a vaulted ceiling, bookshelves, skylights, stone floor and double glass doors to the garden.

There is also access to the utility room with storage and laundry room, lined with shelves.

Mrs. Boddington said: When we first moved in, the back of the house was disconnected because there was some kind of flat.

As our sons and their friends got so big and started moving around, it suited us to have a playroom.

The house has very much its own character and we had to live in it for a while so that we could understand and make sure that any changes we wanted to make were sensitive.

Other changes included replacing a window to create a porch entrance, installing electric gates to provide off-road parking, and leveling the bedroom floors.

Mr. Boddington joked: You would be in bed and if you weren’t careful you could have rolled out.

Furthermore, nothing structural needed to be done. The roof and walls were all in order.

The last thing we did was replace the master en-suite about a year ago.

Many of the original period features have been preserved, such as marble fireplaces.

Mrs. Boddington said: There is a riverside house in Henley with the same tiles around the fireplace, so I know the houses we have are Victorian.

There is also a lot of cove down and arches.

Mr. Boddington said, each of the intersections has a characteristic. The staircase is also a feature of its own, as it narrows as you climb it and get to the landing.

The master bedroom, which has a 4.5 meter high ceiling, has been used differently in recent years.

Mrs. Boddington explained: From the old days we have been told the reason we have a fireplace and a chandelier is because there would have been an old back staircase leading from what is now the master bedroom to the kitchen.

It used to be a Georgian morning room with the large window and fireplace, with its shutters and now leading to the dressing room and en-suite.

The couple discovered that the iron railings at the front of the property were old because a driver had once hit them and they had to hire a specialist to fix them.

The Boddingtons, who both work from home, say they couldn’t have wished for a better place to start a family.

Mr. Boddington, a planning consultant, said: Since we have stone floors, the boys in their youth just rode their tricycles or rollerblades.

In the dining room, we used to push aside the table and set up a Scalextric because it was so big and the rooms offer flexible space.

Ms. Boddington, a marketing consultant, said: Because it’s such a big house, everyone has their own space, you never feel crowded.

One of our sons and his girlfriend moved in during the lockdown and worked from home, just like us, and there was plenty of room for all of us.

I also take care of two young children and in the family room they can be with me so I can keep an eye on them while also having a lot of space around them. Although it is a large house, we have the advantage of being able to have that close contact.

What I love about it is the master suite. For me it is my own private space. It doesn’t matter how many people are in the house even if we were to organize a crew for Henley Royal Regatta. I could close my bedroom door and I would have a great space where I would never feel forced.

The house also has a cellar, which is accessible through a door under the stairs. It is divided into two large rooms with walls with shelves and light and electricity.

The couple has also done a lot of work outside.

The backyard is surrounded by high brick walls with mature trees. There is a large lawn with mature ornamental beds with shrubs and many climbing plants.

Mr. Boddington said: When the previous owner left the garden was a bit of a building site and bits and pieces lying around.

One thing we found was a lot of York stone that had previously been in the old utility room at the back of the house, now the family room.

I used that to build the patio where we get sun late in the day.

There is also an artificial grass pitch that Mr. Boddington and the family would use to keep fit all year round and enjoy outdoor sports such as table tennis and hockey.

The house is adjacent to the open countryside and the bedrooms have views of Watlington Hill. Mr Boddington said: You are a two minute walk from the recreation area so people with children can walk there and also to the cricket ground and within 10 minutes you are in the open countryside.

From the front of the house across the road there are views across fields to the White Mark on the hill and The Ridgeway.

The White Mark is a chalk triangle carved into Watlington Hill, giving the Church of St. Leonard the appearance of a tower from the right angle. This was at the whim of local squire Edward Horne in 1764.

Watlington is full of independent shops, award-winning restaurants and pubs. It does not have its own train station, but is central to a number of main stations such as Henley and Cholsey (8 miles), Princess Risborough (9 miles) and Wycombe (11 miles) with trains to London Marylebone station.

Watlington Primary School is rated excellent by education watchdog Ofsted.

Ms. Boddington said it would be a wrench to leave their home of nearly 25 years, but the time was right to do so.

She said we need to think about our next stage of life. It is a family home and should be used as such. The house is too big for the two of us.

We still want to stay in Watlington. We want to downsize, but we don’t want to go far.

Westfield House has a target price of 1.7 million euros and is available through Philip Booth brokers in Station Road, Henley. Call (01491) 876544 to request a viewing.

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